Should Canadians Be(e) Concerned About Their Wild Pollinators?
by Mivany on October 6, 2016 - 12:03pm
Historically, Canadians have demonstrated empathy for the large, charismatic creatures who inhabit the vast wilderness of their country; lovable creatures with large round eyes and soft fury exteriors. However, the past decade has seen a noticeable shift in Canadian awareness towards the smaller critters of the wild (Suzuki, 2016).
The 2015 article Feds Urged to Protect Wild Bees describes how five environmental groups in Toronto, including the Wilderness Committee, David Suzuki Foundation, Equiterre and Friends of the Earth and Ecojustice lawyers took to action by pressing the Federal Minister of the Environment to include four wild species of bees in the Species at Risk Act (David Suzuki Foundation, 2015). Those species are the Macropis Cuckoo bee, Gypsy Cuckoo Bumble Bee, Western Bumble Bee and mckayi subspecies (David Suzuki Foundation, 2015). The groups claim that inclusion in the SARA is a crucial step forward in the protection and recovery process. Bee populations have been steadily declining since the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides. The article states that the five environmental groups had given assessment reports to the Minister, highlighting the above listed species as endangered, nine months prior to bringing in legal representation. Still, the Minister did not include them under SARA. Because the bees are not included in the protection act, nothing has to be done to ensure their safety. Environmentalists contend that the Minister of the Environment has a “legal obligation” (David Suzuki Foundation, 2015) to protect such essential pollinators. Canadian environmental groups are calling on the Canadian government to act on these pressing matters.
Canada’s Minister of Environment must act, that is the simple and underlying message of this news piece. Public awareness of the issue has grown significantly, and the population has become more vocal. Out of nearly fifty thousand comments submitted at an official consultation of the health of Ontario’s pollinators forum in 2015, over ninety-seven percent expressed a desire for government to restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (Suzuki foundation media release, 4 March 2015). It is important for the public to have strong representatives in government that will communicate effectively with relevant actors. Complex power dynamics and conflicts of interest have previously prevented responsible parties from accepting blame when it comes to the issue of declining wild bee populations.
Although it is a very complicated and difficult task, we must recognize the importance of environmental health, and reevaluate the work of institutions responsible for maintaining it. By deciding to protect wild bees, we embark on a nuanced discourse built around the interconnected and transboundary health of our ecosystem.
Canadian citizens and government must do much more to protect wild bees. Wild bees play an intrinsic role in the flow cycle of our food system. Even on a purely anthropogenic level, it is in our best interest to not only protect wild bees from threats to their survival, but to help their populations grow and thrive. Due to this reality, the actions of the five previously mentioned environmental group remain rather important. Canadians need a powerful advocate that will work towards establishing a healthy environment for future generations.
The legal action that Ecojustice lawyers and the five environmental organizations have taken are crucial in protecting wild bees from threats to their survival, and protect an essential component of our ecosystem.
David Suzuki Foundation. (2015). Feds urged to protect wild bees. Retrieved from http://davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2015/09/feds-urged-to-protect-wild-bees
David Suzuki Foundation (2015). Ninety-seven percent support Ontario’s plan to restrict bee-killing pesticides. [Media Release]. Retrieved from http://davidsuzuki.org/media/news/2015/03/ninety-seven-per-cent-support-...
Suzuki, D. (2016). We Should Love Bees, Especially The Wild Ones. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/david-suzuki/wild-bee-conservation_b_930179...